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New Zealand’s Resources Minister Shane Jones leans on fellow Kiwi Chris Ellison to drive mining industry

Simone Grogan
The Nightly
Business. New Zealand Resources Minister Shane Jones at the Duxton Hotel in Perth. Jackson Flindell
Business. New Zealand Resources Minister Shane Jones at the Duxton Hotel in Perth. Jackson Flindell Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

New Zealand’s Resource Minister Shane Jones is on Australian roadshow drumming up support and leaning on the intel mining of magnate Chris Ellison to try and bolster mining income for the island nation.

Mr Jones is in the middle of a week-long visit to Perth and Melbourne peddling the message that New Zealand is ‘open for business’.

In the WA leg of his trip Mr Jones said he had met with Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King and WA’s Mines and Petroleum Minister David Michael, who he said made a “compelling” case that small incentives for explorers could help develop its mining industry in the longer-term.

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“Historically, New Zealand has never offered subsidies, well in my adult lifetime it hasn’t. It’s not totally foreign, but it’s hardly the way we do business in New Zealand,” he told The West Australian.

“But like a lot of Western Governments that moved in this direction, Australia, America, the EU, it’s a moot point as we prepare for our budget in 2024 25. What are the things the state can do to boost our capacity to not only create a better knowledge base, but to be better prepared to deal with global uncertainty?”

Mr Jones holds the resources, oceans and fisheries and regional development portfolio, and is Associate Minister for finance and energy, as part of New Zealand’s three-party coalition government led by Prime Minister Christopher Luxon.

Tasked with finding “elixirs that expedites” NZ’s growth, Mr Jones is spearheading efforts to double its mineral exports to $NZ2 billion ($1.8b) by 2035. New Zealand has also recruited global resources firm Wood Mackenzie to help hash out a list of minerals of economic importance and where there might be local opportunities.

The Minister caught up with Mineral Resources founder and Western Australia’s Honorary Consul of New Zealand Chris Ellison, who shared that social licence should’t be undervalued when bringing new mines online.

“He felt that there was more that Kiwis and Aussies could do together,” Mr Jones said. “i.e., if we are going to have a joint approach on new energy developments, or a new frontier for how rare earth and critical minerals are to be used, share the knowledge and join together as much as possible.

“That’s quite a penetrating insight and it’s one I’ll check back to our Prime Minister and our Government to explore ways where we can almost institutionally work together.”

The New Zealand First party, which Mr Jones belongs to, is also trying to push new legislation that would accelerate mining and exploration permits.

“These matters have bedevilled applicants, they have had the effect of the deterring both domestic and overseas investors.”

“When you think about New Zealand, you think of the pastures, deep ravines, bush covered hills but we’re having to reappraise our situation,” he said.

“Because we do have rare earth and critical minerals. We’ve never really focused on them in a way that the current government is now drilling down, both figuratively and literally.”

Mr Jones will make for Melbourne at the end of the week.

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